Wednesday, September 06, 2006

French Troops Beefing Up

(French Leclerc tank in action)

To the surprise of many, the French troops in Lebanon are beefing up their weaponry to unprecedented levels. Actually, the French force, which is to be the second largest contingency after Italy, has deployed the most powerful weapon systems thus making the new UNIFIL a force to be reckoned with.
According to AP, France is rolling out hefty tanks, powerful artillery, and sophisticated radar systems to pinpoint artillery launch sites. French Leclerc tanks will be some of the mightiest vehicles deployed under the U.N. flag -- an answer to critics who have moaned about toothless, ineffectual U.N. peacekeeping deployments over the years. The deployment from France, one of many countries contributing to an expanded U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, will give new teeth to a force often criticized as ineffective since its creation in 1978.
Amid the pressure, President Jacques Chirac announced Aug. 24 that France would increase its contribution to UNIFIL to 2,000 -- up from 400 -- backed by sophisticated equipment and firepower. The force is to help Lebanon's army extend government authority near the border with Israel, where clashes between Israel and Hizbullah fighters left hundreds of people dead this summer. Heavy armor like the Leclerc is not typically part of the force deployment package for a U.N. peacekeeping operation, although battle tanks have been used in past missions. Attack helicopters, for example, have been deployed for the biggest U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo. Italy has committed the largest contingent of 2,500 troops to UNIFIL, and its forces are backed with VCC armored vehicles, which bear machine guns, and amphibious assault vehicles. Norway said Tuesday it would send four missile torpedo boats with about 100 crew off the Lebanese coast, while Belgium's commitment of up to 400 soldiers will be backed in part by about 40 armored vehicles.
France, so far, has pledged the most powerful weaponry. Thirteen Leclerc tanks were expected to arrive by rail car from central France to the port of Toulon early Wednesday, before being sent across the Mediterranean to Lebanon in the next several days. The tanks, which each weigh 54 metric tons (59.52 tons), feature 120mm smoothbore cannon, anti-tank and armor-piercing rounds, and anti-aircraft machine guns. The Leclerc, operated by a crew of three, has thermal sighting, night vision and automatic loading system for on-the-move firing. It is smaller, lighter and more compact than the formidable U.S. M1 Abrams.
France is also sending four 155mm surface-to-surface AUF1 canons, with a range of up to 28 kilometers, plus short-range anti-aircraft missiles, and Cobra radar which can pinpoint artillery fire in a range of up to 40 kilometers. France, Italy and other nations have called for robust rules of engagement -- which are still being worked out -- to ensure the safety of their forces and their rights of response in Lebanon.
Well one thing for sure, businesses in the South of Lebanon will surely be happy with all the new customers that are set to arrive from Europe.


Blogger francois said...

u re forgetting the AMX 10

the leclerc is coming with its "full equipment" defensive and offensive + NBC materials
along with the proposition of germany/england/netherland/belgium to deploy aircrafts

some sources think that because the US might attack iran in november

11:12 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

It’s France’s way of arming HZ with bigger weapons. We all know how the French fight from the past three major conflicts they were in. Once the shooting starts just throw your arms up and walk away. The keys will be in the tanks, the weapons will be ready for their new owners. America had the “Lend Lease Act”, the French have the “Lend Surrender Act”.

They need to know how to use their weapons, have they shot a weapon in anger in the last 150 years

6:16 PM  
Blogger Blacksmith Jade said...

sam: useless comment

The French commitment, indeed the whole UNIFIL 2 deployment, is a great contribution to Lebanon's sovereignty and defense and should be viewed as an empowerment of moderate forces in country in which they are surrounded by extremists - internally in the form of Hizballah (predominantly), externally in form of the current autocratic regime in Syria and in the form of extremist right-wing groups in Israel.

Apart from the Hizballah question, the UNIFIL 2 force can contribute greatly to Lebanon's stability and prosperity. Check out these links and let me know what you think:


7:01 PM  
Blogger Haithem Z. said...

It would be wonderful if this French force is there to protect Lebanon from Israel's barbaric aggression. But it seems to me that they're there to ensure Lebanon's impotency, by finishing off the only Arab body that has proven to have any balls (Hezbullah). Too bad that Lebanon is going along with this...

3:22 PM  

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